Sunday, October 4, 2009

Little Surprises

Because of our conflicting work schedules, Brett and I spend a lot of time in our house alone. Me, usually sleeping after he leaves for work, and him either napping, doing chores, or hanging out before I come home. On Sundays, I have most of the day to myself while he works.

We try to make the most of this alone time, so that we can spend all our time together relaxing, and not working. Unless we have a major project, that is. Sometimes, the result is that we have little surprises waiting for us when we get home.

We planned to clean out and organize the storage room this weekend, and I was dreading it. But when I pulled in Thursday afternoon, I saw Brett's truck blocking the driveway. when I got out I noticed the storage room door was open, and inside I found this.

Which is a huge improvement! We didn't take any pictures before, but the plastic shelves replaced these, so you know it left a lot to be desire.

I breathed a sigh of relief that he had tackled this on his own. We still plan to take everything out and paint it white at some point.

So after a weekend of shopping, garage saling and Walking With Dinosaurs, when Brett went back to work Sunday morning, I decided I'd give him a little surprise of his own. He had been meaning to hang up the posters I bought for his office for a while, along with the pen and ink drawings we had for the bathroom. But I wanted to reframe the pen and ink drawings (they were in his office in the old house). So I bought some basic black frames, but I hated the mats that came with them. Add some $1.70 per yard fabric and a little elbow grease, and this is what Brett came home to.

Want to know how to give plain mats a new face? This is also a great trick if you have a bunch of mismatched mats that you want to use in a collection.

A couple of tips before you start. Make sure your mats fit in the frame. Even if they both say they're the same size, things are off a lot of the time. You also want to make sure that everything will fit in the frame and you can still put the backing in. Layer a piece of fabric, the mat, a piece of adhesive, and the backing and make sure it will close. You'll thank yourself later when you're not ruining your fingernails and stuffing the clips in the back with a screwdriver. Not that I did that, of course.

First, cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the mat.

Place the mat upside down on the fabric and put some type of adhesive on the outer edge. I used a mix of foam tape, glue dots, and double sided scotch tape on this project, because I'm cheap and I had it laying around.

Pull that fabric tight and affix it to the adhesive. If you're using a stripe or a very linear print, you need to be very careful to make it line up. I was using unbleached muslin, so I didn't need to be so careful. Fold the corners up and secure them with a glue dot or some other adhesive.

Next, put a craft mat or a piece of cardboard under the middle of your mat, and cut the inner corners like this with an exacto knife.

Fold each piece down and secure with adhesive. If any adhesive is exposed, just cover it with a scrap of fabric. Remember, this is the back of that mat, so it will be covered by the frame's backboard.

You'll be left with it looking like this, once all four corners are done.

Use your scissors to cut off the excess fabric, and pull it tight. Secure to the back of the mat with adhesive.

And voila! A custom mat that looks a little chicer than the cheapo one that's underneath.